We sit down to dinner last night and my son starts to cry. I ask him what is wrong. He tells me that he feels like it is his fault that we didn’t get to go to Michigan. My heart breaks and I tell him that in no way was it his fault. I tell him that he didn’t do anything to prevent our trip. There was a sickness that caused it all and there was nothing we could do to stop it. I tell him all of this knowing that there will always be a part of him that feels as if it was his fault. It is no different than my parents always having told me I was beautiful and loved, but there still being a space within my heart that will never fully believe that about myself. It’s not that they could have told me more or shown me differently, it's just that we all have a journey we need to go on in order to find out our true souls. This heartbreak he is experiencing is part of his journey and I cannot change that journey no matter what I say or do. I can only hold his hand along the way and walk my own journey alongside of him.
The journey we began last week was long as we had to make 8 stops in about 7 hours of travel time. Three small bladders and my son’s stomach kept us from making the time we had hoped to make. He throws up three times, the second and third time we were prepared with bags and towels. After the third time, I am relieved to look in the rearview mirror to finally see him sleeping peacefully. I look back frequently to make sure he’s feeling okay. I then look back and see him having a seizure. He’s never had one. I only recognized it because I’ve seen it in a couple of my students in years past.
I pull over on the side of the interstate and climb into the back, hold him and call his name. I hand my phone to my daughter and ask her if she remembers how to call 911. She bursts into tears and says she can’t. I tell her it is okay, that mommy can do it. I see my son’s lips are blue and I am worried he is not breathing as I dial 911. I am fortunate to have pulled in front of a mile marker and that I even remember what interstate we were on and about where we were. The thought crosses my mind that he may not wake up and the tears start streaming, matching the tears of my daughter. In the moment, somehow, I remember that as much as I want my son to be mine, he is not mine and his time and his journey are all his. The pain of that realization is felt greater than the fear. It was another stark reminder that I have no control and I never will.
This was supposed to be an easy summer. We had no house to renovate, no schools to move, no restaurants to open. The kids and I were going to be by the pool most everyday. I was going to read a lot and write even more. We were going to go to Michigan and hang by the lake and enjoy the peacefulness of our family together with not too much to worry about.
Instead I find out my mom has cancer. I learn that I have a letter from my birth father that I’ve never read, and my daughter breaks her arm. We finally make plans to go to one of my favorite spots on this earth and on our way there, Carl has a seizure and we spend the night in a hospital in the middle of nowhere Ohio, scared to death that there is something seriously wrong. My husband has to make the 7 plus hour journey on his own to find and to be with us. And now we’re home and I’m here writing wondering where this part of my life’s journey is leading, painfully trusting that it is just as it should be.
We have doctor appointments this week hoping to find answers, knowing that there may be none, just like I may not ever have an answer to where my or my son’s life journey will lead. I just have to feel the pain and the fear and let go of the rest, including the need to pave my son’s path in the direction I hope that it will go. That is not my job. That’s his job. I’m just here to create the space for him to have seizures, heartache and pain so that he can learn too that none of us have control, and in all reality we don’t want it.
There are just a few weeks left this summer. It’s been hard, and it may continue to be so, but I’m okay with it. Nothing feels loss. Everything feels gained. It’s just been one more step in the journey of life. It’s all just a storm passing through.
And, I believe in equal measure. With all the pain this summer, there will be equal joy. Some of that has already shone through. My son being alive and well and my mom’s prognosis being good are cases in point. I look forward to the rest of the joy shining through just like the sun shining through the clouds after a storm.